Manchester InkLink—Jan 30, 2022
Catholic Medical Center in Manchester and Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth will receive a total of $1,307,324 in federal grant funding from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help strengthen telehealth services as communities continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding was made possible through the work of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Representatives Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas.
Hassan successfully worked to strengthen and increase funding for this FCC telehealth program in the COVID-19 relief bill, signed into law at the end of 2020.
“This important funding helps us sustain the telehealth program that we ramped up during the first weeks of the pandemic,” said Dr. Michael Gilbert, Chief Medical Officer at Catholic Medical Center. “We have since seen the power of telehealth to increase access and convenience for patients and are deeply appreciative of the support of the entire NH delegation.“
“We are thrilled to learn of our funding award from the COVID-19 Telehealth Grant Program,” said Michelle L. McEwen, President/CEO of Speare Memorial Hospital. “Since the pandemic telehealth has now become an important way for us to reach and care for current and new underserved patients. To ensure these patients have a reliable, secure connection for a quality telehealth visit, we need to invest in a new telehealth infrastructure. This funding will allow us to proceed with this infrastructure improvement.”
“Over the past two years, health care centers have relied on telehealth to provide their patients with the high-quality care that they deserve—and the need for these services remains. These federal dollars that I helped secure will take steps to strengthen telehealth operations in Manchester and Plymouth, as well as expand care to veterans and older Granite Staters who may otherwise lack the ability to use telehealth. I will continue to work with the delegation to ensure that Granite Staters can get the health care that they need,” Hassan said.
“The pandemic has underscored just how important telehealth is in ensuring access to essential health services. That’s why I’m pleased to join the delegation in announcing this funding to strengthen telehealth services in Manchester and Plymouth. This funding will expand access and make telemedicine more reliable – putting critical resources within reach for more Granite State communities. Telehealth will play an integral role in the future of health care, I’ll continue working to ensure New Hampshire has the digital infrastructure to support these services,” Shaheen said.
“Telehealth has proven to be an incredible tool for our communities and rural health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to connect health care providers and patients across New Hampshire even when they couldn’t meet in person. I’m thrilled federal resources will be heading to the Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth to help expand their current telehealth operations and reach more Granite Staters, including those in long-term care facilities and veteran housing,” said Kuster, who serves on the House Rural Broadband Task Force.
“Telehealth services have allowed Granite Staters to continue to receive essential care without increasing their risk of contracting COVID-19 throughout this pandemic. It’s welcome news that New Hampshire will receive these federal funds to continue to improve and expand telehealth services during the current surge in cases we are experiencing. I’ll continue advocating for further investment in our health care systems and providers to ensure they have the resources needed to keep our communities safe and healthy,” Pappas said.
Catholic Medical Center in Manchester was awarded $1,000,000 to purchase laptops, tablets, and data plans to allow for remote patient evaluations and enhance other telehealth applications. Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth was awarded $307,324 to purchase tablets and wireless network infrastructure upgrades, to help the hospital expand current telehealth offerings and outreach to unserved populations including long-term care facilities and a veteran housing complex.